Vik Muniz exposes his shared roots with Ruinart

Vik Muniz exposes his shared roots with Ruinart

The Brazilian artist magnifies the close relationship between man and nature in a series produced during his residency at the French champagne house

There’s long been debate about whether winemaking is an art or a science. For Brazilian artist Vik Muniz, who recently unveiled six photographic works in collaboration with champagne house Ruinart, there’s undeniably a great deal of creativity involved in creating fine wine. ‘Winemaking is a very complex thing. It requires a lot of knowledge, and somebody like Frederic Panaïotis [cellar master at Ruinart], is very creative,’ says Muniz. ‘It’s just as experimental as what I do as an artist.’

After gathering inspiration during an art residency on a vineyard belonging to Ruinart, Muniz has revealed his body of work, Shared Roots. Stemming from the French house’s bucolic surroundings, Muniz’s works explore the human and nature relationship between the winegrowers and vineyards as well as the terroir. ‘These are all connected. Everything comes from the ground, and everything comes from the soil,’ says Muniz.

On display until the end of March in Ruinart’s gallery, which is housed in one of its cellars in Champagne, Shared Roots will travel to over 30 art fairs including Frieze and Art Basel before returning to the Maison. Ruinart has worked with artists since 1896, including Piet Hein Eek, Liu Bolin and Maarten Baas. For the champagne brand, Muniz was an obvious next choice. ‘He is a Francophile: he speaks French, he is an epicurean, he loves food. He’s [also] an extremely lively, entertaining Brazilian, and we thought he is the best ambassador we could have,’ says Ruinart president Frédéric Dufour. 

The theme Muniz chose for this project is one he’s been toying with for a while – even before the residency was offered to him. ‘I wanted to work with the idea of tree morphology. When I met Frédéric Panaïotis, he knew all about it. He can tell [so much about] leaves just by looking at them,’ says Muniz, who was deeply inspired by Panaïotis’ wealth of knowledge. In the six photographic prints, Muniz captures the vines through the use of natural elements like charcoal, leaves and blackened wood.

Trees are something Muniz has wanted to use as a subject, but never had the opportunity to. Until he had access to the Sillery vineyard on the Montagne de Reims. It was through the landscape and his discussions with Panaïotis – who offers a contrasting and unique skill set – that Muniz unlocked a certain creativity. ‘I’m very curious about working with people who are very passionate about what they do, and who work in something completely different to me. I have worked with scientists, poets, writers, perfume makers. I think this contrast creates a lot of knowledge.’ §

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